Your association has probably mastered the art of live events after years of planning annual conferences and board meetings, which is a good thing since recent research shows members still prefer to get their professional development live. However, your organization could be missing out on a large chunk of additional revenue by not taking advantage of the estimated $160 billion spent each year on professional development by not adding in a virtual element.

Webinars are a great way to provide continuing education to members who don’t have the means or time to travel and be with you in the flesh. There are multiple platforms out there to help you present your content online, but a seamless execution is easier said than done. A lot of planning needs to go into developing your program, advertising it to an audience, measuring attendance and participation for certification or credentialing purposes, and giving members a meaningful experience.

Whether you’re getting ready to prepare for your very first webinar or are a seasoned pro, we’ve got some tips and tricks to help your virtual event go off without a hitch. Ideally, the planning process should start about three months out from the day of the event. Consider what your goals are and identify the key stakeholders who need to be involved. Evaluate who you’re targeting, what the flow of the course will look like, and get run-throughs scheduled.

If your learning management system (LMS) provider offers client services, talk to your account director about any technical components you should have in place, and find out what types of additional features you can incorporate to keep members engaged. Features like live polling, interactive chat rooms, and the ability to take questions from attendees are all great ways to make a virtual experience feel more personal.

As the big day approaches you’ll want to make sure you’ve crossed all your “T”s and dotted your “I”s. Schedule reminder emails to be sent to registrants; people are busy and if someone registered a month ago for your webinar, there’s a good chance he or she might have forgotten. Remember to check in with your presenters to make sure the presentation is locked and loaded and meets all the requirements your learners need for continuing education credit.

Just like with an in-person event, a webinar isn’t over after the session concludes. Be sure to follow up with members to deliver any certification or credentialing documentation, and thank them for participating. Consider surveying attendees to get their feedback about the course and what types of content they’d like to see in the future. If your LMS has the option to offer the course on-demand or be broken down into nano-bites for just-in-time learning reference at a later date, be sure to let attendees know and use it as an opportunity to reach out to people who may have registered, but didn’t actually attend the live session.

Download our Complete Guide to Webinar Planning Checklist for all the details on how to deliver a perfectly executed campaign today.